After Lauren and Ben spent a weekend with their friends Ellery and Kristy all they could talk about was the grilled clams Ellery made. The recreated the dish for a group of us last weekend and sure enough they were a hit. The one thing that we might change next time is the clams themselves - we used cherrystones and think smaller littlenecks would be even better. There is some range in size for both varieties so it is probably a good idea to ask to see them at the fish market and choose whichever looks like a perfect bite size.
The recipe is pretty simple but apparently you need a little practice shucking the clams once they pop open on the grill...Ben said Ellery made it look a lot easier than it really was! Before you get started soak the clams in very salty water - the clams should open slightly and release any sand that may be in the shells. For 2 dozen clams we sauteed 4 cloves of minced garlic in a little olive oil until it was soft, and added 4 tablespoons salted butter. Once the butter has melted keep the mixture warm - if you have one of those grills with a side burner this is the time to use it. Put the clams on the grill and close the lid. After 5-8 minutes you will hear them start to pop open. Use a clam shucking knife to open the shells the rest of the way and pry off the top. Run the knife under the clam to detach it from the muscle on the bottom. Use a pastry brush or teaspoon to generously coat the clams with the garlic butter. You can leave the clams to keep cooking on the grill while you work through the rest but if they look like they are getting too cooked move them to a cooler part. Once all the clams are ready transfer to a plate and serve immediately.